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comfortable inn, kept by Mrs. Mac-Candlish in that village. The conversation which passed among them will save me the trouble of telling the few events occurring during this chasm in our history, with which it is necessary that the reader should be acquainted.
Mrs. Mac-Candlish, throned in a comfortable easy chair lined with black leather, was regaling elf, and neighbouring gossip or two, with a cup of genuine tea, and at the same time keeping a sharp eye upon her domestics, as they went and came in prosecution of their various duties and commissions. The clerk and precentor of the parish enjoyed at a little distance his Saturday night's pipe, and aided its bland fumigation by an occasional sip of brandy and water. Deacon Bearcliff, a man of great importance in the village, combined the indulgence of both parties - he had his pipe and his tea-cup, the latter being laced with a little spirits. One or two clowns sat at some distance, drinking their twopenny
“Are ye sure the parlour's ready for them, and the fire burning clear, and the chimney no smoking?" said the hostess to a chambermaid.
She was answered in the affirmative. “Ane wadna be uncivil to them, especially in their distress,” said she, turning to the Deacon.
“Assuredly not, Mrs. Mac-Candlish; assuredly not. I am sure ony sma' thing they might want frae my shop, under seven, eight, or ten pounds, I would book them as readily for it as the first in the country. Do they come in the auld chaise?”
“I dare say no," said the precentor; “for Miss Bertram comes on the white powny ilka day to the kirk and a constant kirkkeeper she is and it 's a pleasure to hear her singing the psalms, winsome young thing.'
“Ay, and the young Laird of Hazlewood rides hame half the road wi' her after sermon," said one of the gossips in company; “I wonder how auld Hazlewood likes that.”
“I kenna how he may like it now," answered another of the tea-drinkers; “but the day has been when Ellangowan wad hae liked as little to see his daughter taking up with their son."
“Ay, has been," answered the first, with somewhat of emphasis.
“I am sure, neighbour Ovens,” said the hostess, “the Hazlewoods of Hazlewood, though they are a very gude auld family in the county, never thought, till within these twa score o' years, of evening themselves to the Ellangowans. Wow, woman,
the Bertrams of Ellangowan are the auld Dingawaies lang syne there is a sang about ane o' them marrying a daughter of the King of Man: it begins,
Blythe Bertram 's ta’en him ower the faem,
To wed a wife, and bring her bame-
“Gudewife,” said Skreigh, gathering up his mouth, and sipping his tiff of brandy punch with great solemnity, “our talents were gien us to other use than to sing daft auld sangs sae near the Sabbath day.”
“Hout, fie, Mr. Skreigh; I’se warrant I hae heard you sing a blythe sang on Saturday at e'en before now. But as for the chaise, Deacon, it hasna been out of the coach-house since Mrs. Bertram died, that 's sixteen or seventeen years since syne Jock Jabos is away wi' a chaise of mine for them; I wonder he's no come back. It 's pit mirk; but there's no an ill turn on the road but twa, and the brigg ower Warroch burn is safe eneugh, if he haud to the right side. But then there's Heavieside-brae, that 's just a murder for post-cattle; but Jock kens the road brawly.”
A loud rapping was heard at the door.
“That 's no them. I dinna hear the wheels. Grizzle, ye limmer, gang to the door."
“It's a single gentleman,” whined out Grizzle, “maun I take him into the parlour?”
“Foul be in your feet, then; it 'll be some English rider. Coming without a servant at this time o' night! -- Has the ostler ta'en the horse? - Ye may light a spunk o'fire in the red room."
“I wish, Ma'am,” said the traveller, entering the kitchen, “you would give me leave to warm myself here, for the night is
His appearance, voice, and manner, produced an instantaneous effect in his favour. He was a handsome, tall, thin figure, dressed in black, as appeared when he laid aside his riding-coat; his age might be between forty and fifty; his cast of features grave and interesting, and his air somewhat military. Every point of his appearance and address bespoke the gentleman. Long habit had given Mrs. Mac-Candlish an acute tact in ascertaining the quality of her visitors, and proportioning her reception accordingly:
To every guest the appropriate speech was made,
On the present occasion, she was low in her curtsey, and profuse in her apologies. The stranger begged his horse might be attended to she went out herself to school the hostler.
“There was never a prettier bit o' horse-flesh in the stable o' the Gordon Arms,” said the man; which information increased the landlady's respect for the rider. Finding, on her return, that the stranger declined to go into another apartment, (which indeed, she allowed, would be but cold and smoky till the fire bleezed up,) she installed her guest hospitably by the fire-side, and offered what refreshment her house afforded. “A
cup of your tea, Ma'am, if you will favour me." Mrs. Mac-Candlish bustled about, reinforced her teapot with hyson, and proceeded in her duties with her best grace. “We have a very nice parlour, Sir, and every thing very agreeable for gentlefolks; but it 's bespoke the-night for a gentleman and his daughter, that are going to leave this part of the country — ane of my chaises has gane for them, and will be back forthwith they're no sae weel in the warld as they have been; but we ’re a' subject to ups and downs in this life, as your honour must needs ken - but is not the tobacco-reek disagreeable to your honour?”
“By no means, Ma'am; I am an old campaigner, and perfectly used to it. Will you permit me to make some inquiries about a family in this neighbourhood?"
The sound of wheels was now heard, and the landlady hurried to the door to receive her expected guests; but returned in an instant, followed by the postilion “No, they canna come at no rate, the Laird's sae ill.”
“But God help them,” said the landlady, “the morn 's the term — the very last day they can bide in the house — a'thing's to be roupit.”
“Weel, but they can come at no rate, I tell ye - Mr. Bertram canna be moved.”
“What Mr. Bertram?” said the stranger; “not Mr. Bertram of Ellangowan, I hope?”
“Just e'en that same, Sir; and if ye be a friend o' his, ye have come at a time when he's sair bested.”
“I have been abroad for many years - is his health so much deranged?”
“Ay, and his affairs an'a',” said the Deacon; "the creditors have entered into possession o’the estate, and it 's for sale; and some that made the maist by him - I name nae name, but Mrs. Mac-Candlish kens wha I mean (the landlady shook her head significantly) they ’re sairest on him e’en now. I have a sma' matter due mysell, but I would rather have lost it than gane to turn the auld man out of his house, and him just dying."
“Ay, but,” said the parish-clerk, “Factor Glossin wants to get rid of the auld Laird, and drive on the sale, for fear the heirmale should cast up upon them; for I have heard say, if there was an heir-male, they couldna sell the estate for auld Ellangowan's debt."
“He had a son born a good many years ago," said the stranger; “he is dead, I suppose?”
“Nae man can say for that,” answered the clerk mysteriously.
“Dead!” said the Deacon, “I'se warrant him dead lang syne; he hasna been heard o'these twenty years or thereby.”
“I wot weel it 's no twenty years," said the landlady; “it's no abune seventeen at the outside in this very month; it made an unca noise ower a' this country - the bairn disappeared the very day that Supervisor Kennedy cam by his end. If ye kenn'd this country lang syne, your honour wad maybe ken Frank
Kennedy the Supervisor. He was a heartsome pleasant man, and company for the best gentlemen in the county, and muckle mirth he's made in this house. I was young then, Sir, and newly married to Bailie Mac-Candlish, that's dead and gone - - (a sigh)
and muckle fun I 've had wi' the Supervisor. He was a daft dog. O, an he could hae hauden off the smugglers a bit! but he was aye venturesome. And so, ye see, Sir, there was a king's sloop down in Wigton bay, and Frank Kennedy, he behoved to have her up to chase Dirk Hatteraick's lugger - ye 'll mind Dirk Hatteraick, Deacon? I dare say ye may have dealt wi' him (the Deacon gave a sort of acquiescent nod and humph.) He was a daring chield, and he fought his ship till she blew up
like peelings of ingans; and Frank Kennedy he had been the first man to board, and he was flung like a quarter of a mile off, and fell into the water below the rock at Warroch Point, that they ca’ the Gauger’s Loup to this day.”
“And Mr. Bertram's child," said the stranger, “what is all this to him?”
“Ou, Sir, the bairn aye held an unca wark wi' the Supervisor; and it was generally thought he went on board the vessel alang wi' him, as bairns are aye forward to be in mischief.”
“No, no,” said the Deacon, “ye're clean out there, Luckie for the young Laird was stown away by a randy gipsy woman they ca’d Meg Merrilies, I mind her looks weel,- in revenge for Ellangowan having gar'd her be drumm'd through Kippletringan for stealing a silver spoon."
“If ye 'll forgie me, Deacon," said the precentor, “ye're e'en as far wrang as the gudewife.”
“And what is your edition of the story, Sir?” said the stranger, turning to him with interest.
“That 's maybe no sae canny to tell," said the precentor, with solemnity.
Upon being urged, however, to speak out, he preluded with two or three large puffs of tobacco-smoke, and out of the cloudy sanctuary which these whiffs formed around him, delivered the following legend, having cleared his voice with one or two hems,